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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Electoral Antihomosexualism. My state, New Jersey, one of the bluest of Blue States, is in the midst of an extremely ugly electoral campaign for governor, in which the Republican Party is pulling out all stops, which includes playing the (anti)gay card.
Republican (multimillionaire) candidate Doug Forrester's most recent slimy, corruption-themed TV ad (TV meaning "television") tries to appeal, sub rosa, to antihomosexual bigotry in dragging in the name of former Governor James McGreevey, who resigned from office because he was about to be exposed as a homosexual man so infatuated with an Israeli that he tried to give him a very high office in state government (homeland security director) for which he was not qualified (despite the assertions we hear endlessly that Israel knows how to protect against terrorism). The Forrester ad accuses McGreevey of 'scandal after scandal', when in fact the only scandal anyone ever heard of was the loverboy fiasco, which was affectional (McGreevey was married to a woman at the time), not financial. So plainly Forrester's attack is intended to identify the Democratic Party in general and Jon Corzine in particular with 'faggotry'. Of course, in this royal-blue state, Forrester's scumbags can't simply say, as Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, or other Red State yahoos can, "Ain't no place in this great state for faggots!" No, Forrester has to pretend that McGreevey's sad infatuation somehow constituted corruption — in which Corzine was somehow implicated.
Never mind that McGreevey was a terrific governor who closed a huge budget gap that George Bush's insane tax cuts for the rich opened up in every state's budget — and that McGreevey did so without raising state taxes or cutting services as far as anyone could tell. No, the mere fact that McGreevey was a faggot makes him, the party he belongs to, and that party's current candidate for the same office, (morally?) 'corrupt'.
I saw McGreevey's public announcement of his homosexuality live on television. I worked, at the time, for a major Downtown Newark law firm much involved in civic affairs. So, when administrators heard there would be a major announcement from the governor's office, they put a large TV set in the firm's largest conference room, a splendid glass-walled space looking out over Newark Penn Station and, in the far distance, the skyline of Manhattan, so everyone could watch.
After a couple of delays, the governor's press conference started. It had been rumored that he would admit to a sexual affair with a woman not his wife. Not quite.
Skinny but nice-looking McGreevey stood before the state — and announced that he was gay. An audible gasp! went thru the room. He then said he felt he would be unable to continue as an effective governor because of this revelation and because of the controversy over his behavior, so he would resign effective as of a couple of months later.
I was livid.
McGreevey had been an extraordinarily effective governor. To this day I don't know how he accomplished the magical act of closing a budget gap of billions of dollars without anybody feeling pain. But he did. And that is the act of a great governor.
But because he was a faggot who cheated on his wife — whom he should never have married — and might cause embarrassment to his child — whom he should never have fathered (a daughter! maybe there is a God, and He punishes, as by giving a gay governor only one child, and it's a girl!) — he felt that he should resign an office that the majority of voters in the 10th largest state in the Nation had put into office. How stupid.
I wrote to him to say that it was just plain wrong of him to resign, that that would send the wrong message about homosexuality, that somehow it is so evil that even an enormously effective governor who was gay would have an obligation to resign his office. He paid me no heed, but listened only to his guilts.
I was ashamed of McGreevey not for being gay, of course, but for dragging a sweet and decent woman into his confusions and unhappiness, thus ruining a substantial portion of her life, and their daughter's life, by not sticking to his decision to live straight. Make up your mind before you involve other people, not after.
Now McGreevey's gutless faggotry is harming the Democratic Party's chances of retaining the Governor's Mansion because the slimeball Republican who is challenging U.S. Senator Jon Corzine for the governorship is using Corzine's support of (then-presumed-straight) McGreevey as some kind of rationale for voting Republican.
McGreevey's initial press conference should have announced, not just that he was a "Gay American" — a terrific phrase that did not, or has not yet, caught on — but that he apologized to everyone he misled, but that straight society has only itself to blame for forcing gay men to lie to them, and then gone on to say:

I have made mistakes in my life, some of them with terrible personal consequences for people I loved, or should have loved. But running for Governor of the State of New Jersey was not one of my mistakes. I earned my election as this terrific state's governor. I have done a terrific job. My work is not finished. And thus I will stay in office and continue my work to make New Jersey the best state in the Union.

To everyone I have misled, and misused, I apologize from the deepest part of my heart. But I do not apologize for being gay.

I am not just the Governor of New Jersey. I am indeed a Gay American, and I owe a duty to other Gay Americans to be honest, open, and, at last, proud. The man who put forward the term "Gay Pride" in 1970 was also a New Jerseyan, and I should have heeded that implied advice: be yourself, be proud of yourself. Be gay and glad to be gay if you are gay. And I am.

I have always been gay. I have not always been proud. And I'm sorry for that now. I have hurt people who assumed me to be, and wanted me to be, heterosexual. I don't want any longer to mislead or disappoint them. And I do not any longer want to mislead or disappoint gay men.

I am the highest elected openly-gay official in the history of the United States, and I'm now proud of that. I will remain Governor of the great State of New Jersey, and show everyone, everywhere in this country and elsewhere who may be watching, that gay people can do any job as well as anyone else, and have as total and pure a dedication to the public good as anyone else. So let us all learn from my terrible mistakes, not to draw people into our own confusions but to sort ourselves out. Not to pretend to be what you're not, but to be yourself. Not to accept the absurd and bigoted notion that there is something intrinsically wrong with being homosexual, even if you respect your partner and do nothing to harm him or anyone else, but to love as you are meant to love, with enthusiasm and joy.

And so today I apologize to everyone, of every orientation, that I may have hurt or disappointed thru my entire life up to this point, and resolve to do better in the future. I ask my wife to forgive me, and permit me to dissolve without excessive bitterness a marriage that should never have been. I wanted to be what you wanted me to be, but couldn't. It's very hard to break from what you were always expected to be, and I had a hard time. But perhaps this very public coming to terms with my nature will empower other people to save themselves some of the pain I suffered, in coming to terms with who and what they are. If so, this very public pain of my own will have been well worthwhile.

But to those who suggest that just because I am homosexual I am unfit to hold high public office, I must in good conscience reply, "You're wrong. Gay men are the equal of straight, and have as much to offer society as anyone."

My being homosexual of necessity makes me more sensitive to the problems of everyone who belongs to any minority. But inasmuch as I am white too, I know as well how the 'majority' mind works. My sexuality has thus positioned me uniquely to understand both sides of the most pressing divide in our society, between the majority and all the multitudinous minorities of the hugely diverse State of New Jersey. Politically, then, I am blessed, because I care more and understand more than anyone who does not straddle groups can do.
So, New Jersey, you are a pioneer. You have the first openly homosexual governor in the history of the United States. And I will do my best to make you as proud in the future as I am today.

That is something like what McGreevey should have said. What he actually said came off as more like, "Sorry I'm gay. Please don't hate me. I'm going now."
Not good enuf.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Silliness Delayed. Over 30 years ago, I cut some stencils for the mimeographed magazine I edited at the time for the small college-based organization Homosexuals Intransigent! (HI!) Mostly, the items I typed were briefs, mainly humorous, that were intended to appear amid the longer articles to give the publication a lighter feel by breaking things up visually. In those days, organizations of modest means couldn't readily use photographs or other illustrations for that purpose because of the limitations of the mimeograph medium. So I typed some short items in advance and intended to type in the longer articles around them later.
Alas, we never did publish the issue for which those 10 stencils were intended, and they have lain in a legal-size file folder for all that time — till now. I have started to offload those texts from the crumbling stencils onto the Internet, and discard the originals, which are not just yellowing but falling to pieces.
Two items that will eventually go onto the HI! website appear together on two consecutive stencils, and I thought them sort of funny, so offer an advance glimpse here.


Homosexuals have na├»vely cooperated with research studies into homosexuality, not realizing that the ultimate use to which such studies will be put is the attempt to eradicate homosexuality. The time has come to stop providing information for our foes to use against us — or, perhaps better (and certainly more fun), to throw a monkey wrench into straights' schemes by playing games on study questionnaires. One feature of many studies is a Family History section to the questionnaire. Here is how I'd like to complete such a section.

Half the men in my family line have been exclusively homosexual for generations. The other half were, alas, sterile, except my grandmother, who is childless, and my mother, who had five miscarriages before I was born. Due to complications while carrying me, my mother died six months before I was born and unfortunately, I did not survive infancy. Immediately after my birth, my mother had a hysterectomy to protect her from hazards, so my little brother wasn't born until two years later. The extended labor following Caesarean section and his brain damage from the forceps used in his breach birth so injured my little brother, who was the last child, that he died within hours of conception.

As a child, I lived a quiet, normal life. My oldest brother, Male 4 Mos., who stays in a formaldehyde-filled jar on the mantel, was always very quiet, and stuck pretty much to himself. (I never could understand the fondness all my brothers and sisters have for formaldehyde. I can't stand even the taste of the stuff.) My next-oldest brother, Male 5 Mos., went off very early to boarding school, where he excelled in biology, serving as an anatomy sample. Male 3 Mos., the older brother closest my own age, was always very serious. I can't recall his ever having cracked a smile. We didn't really get along, and his success has proved a barrier between him and the rest of the family. He is Head Sample at the Princeton Medical School Institute on Prenatal Mortality, and that importance has gone to his head (the rest of him is used in the course on developmental biology). My older sister, Female 4 Mos., was a warm, reticent child who stayed home all the time, mostly on a shelf in the cellar. My younger sister, Female 16 Weeks, was always outgoing, but a bit of a scatterbrain. She resides in Cornell University Medical Center, UCLA Medical School, and Trenton State School of Nursing. The baby of the family, Male 2 Mos. ("X414" as he is affectionately known), is very much like me, but not so handsome. He and I have always been close. I don't know if he is homosexual — if he is, he is in the closet (in the hall, near my bedroom door). None of us has ever married. In fact, I've never heard any of them even mention the topic. And Dad has never pressured me.

The stereotypical Freudian pattern does not fit my background. My mother was not overly dynamic, and we were not even geographically close. As I said, she died four months before I was born and moved away to a cemetery in Communist China, so she could be close to her parents, who are still vigorous and active in community life in Keokuk, Iowa, where our family has always lived except for those who immigrated to the U.S. My father and I have always been very happy and very close. After Mom died, he was like a father and cousin to me.

Dad was an extraordinary man who maintained a full, healthy family life at the same time as he aggressively pursued his career. He won high acclaim for his pioneer work in isolating and refining chromatose neoglabulins into epoxy cigars noted mainly for their freedom from carcinogens and their extreme resistance to fire. Following that breakthru, Dad was able to make significant headway in the inquiry into the nature and possible uses of synthetic exclamatious protineinids. In my teens I spent many hours training the trypanosomes that were so important to Dad's experiments, and used to divert myself by causing them to perform extra little stunts, aside from those strictly necessary for the schismatic-fibrosis-wave alluvations (or "nestorian heresies" as we jokingly referred to them). Dad's including me in his work strengthened our relationship and helped me to appreciate him as a full man, not merely as my father (an extension of myself) or Dad Shapiro's manluvd. In our closeness and the mutual appreciation between my father and myself, we depart from and therefore disprove the Freudian explanations for homosexuality.

Religious influences may be important in the development of my own homosexuality. I was raised a strict Catholic in the Lutheran tradition. I attended Sunday school every week for fourteen years, first at St. Seymour's and then at the Church of the Holy Apocrypha. Naturally, then, I was subjected to a harsh sexual Puritanism except that our minister, Abram Shapiro, S.J., was flagrantly carrying on a discreet sexual affair with my father, in full view of me and my brother X414, except when we were awake. I think that might have had something to do with my positive attitude toward homosexuality. Father Shapiro and Dad were obviously very much in love, and the excitement they felt for each other sort of inspired me. When I met Father Shapiro's son, Carlos O'Reilly (by a former marriage; he and Dad didn't have any children), I fell madly and passionately in love with him, and he reciprocated my feelings. At age 6, he and I were inseparable, sleeping together every night and putting to use the techniques we could manage from those we'd seen our dads employing. We were a very happy, very horny, and very sexually active family. When Teddy and I entered our teens, however, we started to drift apart, he into the Catholic religious life, I into the homosexual movement. We would still get together and make out every now and then, until he left for Ceylon to pursue his studies and I moved here to New York. I still get occasional letters from Johnny neatly typed, but they're in English, and I have a hard time reading his handwriting, so our correspondence is erratic. I'm still close to Dad and the Reverend Father Shapiro — and they're still making it together.

So, as you can see, aside from the fact that I grew up to see the beauty of bulging biceps in the intertwined arms of men making out together, my family history is completely ordinary. One would have to look elsewhere for the "causes" of my homosexuality — if indeed there are causes for homosexuality.

[Just below that article on the second stencil appeared this, typed with forced linebreaks to create the form of a cornucopia with the mouth at the top.]

Now, as tho any proof were needed that I've been strange for quite some time, I offer below an excerpt from a radio show I co-wrote, as a class exercise in a summer-session, radio/TV-production course at San Francisco State in 1969: "Shlomo (Shy) Schmerk, the firstborn, was to have been named Evan after Herbert's great-uncle, Evan Spruce, inventor of the spruce tree. But Mrs. Schmerk's best friend, Angina Pectoris of the Boston Pectorises, advised that all the Evans she knew grew up to be homosexual. So Mrs. Schmerk named the child after her maternal great-grandfather, Shlomo Shultz, of surfboard fame. Shlomo Schmerk, a truck driver, now lives with his lover of five years, Edward Sanders, scion of the Anaheim Sanders and heir to the buttonhook fortune built up by his father, Wesley Sanders the Forty-Ninth. Shlomo and Edward met while both were on the wrestling team at Haverford College, and it's been no-holds-barred ever since." (Reprinted from HI! Magazine, No. 5.)

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